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I thought an exothermic process would lead to a decrease in entropy due to the fact that it is losing heat. When a substance loses heat then wouldn't it go from gas to liquid to solid and therefore entropy is decreasing?
Exothermic processes lead to an increase in entropy because the heat is being released into the surroundings which causes the overall entropy to increase. In this situation, the change in entropy of the surroundings will be greater than that of the system (exothermic process), which is why it is important to distinguish which entropy you are looking at.
An exothermic process leads to an increase in the entropy of the surroundings, since delta S (surroundings) = - (delta H)/T. For an exothermic reaction, the change in enthalpy is negative, making the change in entropy of the surroundings positive. The entropy of the system will not increase, but the total entropy change will still be positive.
Additionally, when exothermic processes release heat, the number of microstates for the surroundings is increased, so entropy still goes up! The second law of thermodynamics stays true.
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